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Lerwick skatepark finally approved

The design of the new Lerwick skatepark to be built next to the coastguard station at The Knab.

SHETLAND’S extreme sports community is cock-a-hoop after two decades of fighting for a skatepark in Lerwick came to an end.

On Tuesday morning Shetland Islands Council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans to build a £214,000 skatepark next to the coastguard station at The Knab.

The decision comes just days after sportscotland approved a £63,000 grant for the project, topping up funding from Europe, local councils and an awful lot of bag packing at local supermarkets.

Skateboarders, skaters and BMX bikers have been calling for a dedicated facility since the early 1990s, when a small ramp was erected at Gremista, but barely used because of its location.

By 2005 the Shetland Skatepark Association had raised more than £200,000 to build a skatepark at Clickimin, only for the plans to be derailed when the council voted to build a new secondary school on the site.

The latest plans were held back by concerns about noise in May, but a new design featuring a five foot high “sound fence” were approved by councillors on Tuesday.

The site where the new skatepark will be built. Photo Shetland Skatepark Association

Association treasurer Kaye Williamson said the 50 strong group, which has 200 active Facebook followers, had already chosen a preferred bidder who should start work on building the skatepark before 5 August.

She said as well as the sportscotland grant, they had received £72,000 from the European LEADER fund, £60,000 from Shetland Islands Council and £3,000 from Lerwick Community Council.

The group itself has raised more than £12,000, she said, largely from “an awful lot of bag packing”.

Williamson became involved five years ago after her son Michael returned home aged 12 with a broken skateboard that had been run over by a four by four. “

It’s felt like climbing Everest since then, but I am really chuffed because these kids really deserve it,” she said.

“I felt like chucking in the towel on a few occasions, but they always came to meetings and they were so enthusiastic you just had to carry on.

“The funny thing is that my son is now 17 and becoming an oil apprentice so he probably won’t get the use of it, but plenty of other youngsters will.”